Like spending a day at the beach

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Just a few words today about the joy of some quiet time over the weekend, spent sitting on the sofa with a coffee and my laptop, conjuring up my next writing assignment. Starting with a blank page and an image in my mind of a beach scene, engrossed in the challenge of creating a patient third person narrator and some lyrical language, I was completely absorbed and in the flow, so much so that I nearly felt like I should brush the sand off my legs when I was done for the day:)

Quiet moments at the beach

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A few more pictures from that morning when we went to see the sunrise at the beach.  I want to remind myself of the luxury feeling of having the empty beach stretched out before us as we walked along with no destination, nowhere we needed to be at a specific time, just the freedom to stop and watch the waves crashing over and over again, or to examine the amazing patterns on huge jellyfish or the multitude of tiny stones and shells washed up on the shore.  I want to bring more and more of this peace into my daily life, without having to go far to find it.

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As day breaks

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During the holidays or on a day off, I sometimes like waking up at dawn to go on a mini-adventure.  I won’t pretend it is easy, but once the ten first minutes after waking have passed (where I curse my body for needing so much sleep), I am usually excited to go explore.  Those are the mornings I tend to remember best when I look back, since they break the routine.

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So one morning, during our recent trip to France, Paolo and I woke up when it was still dark, swallowed a quick breakfast and drove to the beach.  It was such a gift to get to witness the world waking up. We spotted a family of deers on the road which promptly skittered off as we slowly drove by, not wanting to scare them.  There were barely any other cars and the silence was broken only as we approached the beach, by the relentless crashing of the waves on the shore.

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I loved being in the moment with nowhere to rush off to.While Paolo was fishing, I had time to wander and observe the plants on the dunes with their pastel colours blending with that of the soft sand.  The vast expanse of dunes overlooking the long empty beach, surrounded by the sky changing colours, were breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful.

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Of dunes and mermaids

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Most days I love to take a walk by just heading into my neighbourhood of Amsterdam Zuid and roaming my usual paths.   However weekends offer more time to get out of the city for day-trips a little further afield.  This weekend for instance we took the train to Castricum station and went for a walk in the Noordhollands Duinreservaat, a place we regularly return to with great pleasure.

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I like the fact that the landscape changes a lot as you go along. The first part is in the shade of the trees with bluebells lining the path. Then when coming out of the woods, you find yourself in the flat, sandy landscape, peppered with windswept bushes of all different types creating beautiful colour contrasts, and lakes on which birds gather and play.

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After following the winding path, you end up at the final steep dunes which hide the North sea.  I love this colour palette of beige and grey sand, dry dune grasses and blue sky with passing white clouds.  We took a long walk along the beach, enjoying the sea breeze and the sound of the waves… Paolo exchanged a few words with a fisherman casting his rod from the beach, who when asked what he was trying to catch, answered “Platvis… en zeemeerminnen natuurlik” (Flatfish… and mermaids of course!).

Simple pleasures of Brighton

*The amazing colour palette of the cabins by the beach

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*Amazing cakes. I love that most cafés have home-made cakes. There were so many different types, leading to serious dilemmas on what to choose (and the risk of overdosing on sticky toffee pudding… but that’s another story)

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*Waking up to the sound of the seagulls. Whether it was raining or shining, there was no denying that we were close to the seaside

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*Walking on the beach, accompanied by the sound of the waves, no matter what the weather

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Photography afternoon in Blijburg

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Lovely colourful flags blowing in the wind in Blijburg, where I went with my photography class on Saturday for a photo shoot on the beach.  We were really lucky with the weather, as the overcast sky with just a bit of sunshine peeking through from time to time was perfect for taking pictures.

We had great fun creating scenes inspired from our moodboards, with two models and a random collection of props, as passers-by looked at us with curiosity. It’s quite amazing how many creative ideas a bunch of people can come up with using a pineapple, a guitar, a shovel and a red-velvet cake on the beach… I laughed a lot:)

I particularly enjoyed exploring the story-telling aspect of photography and plan to use that more as a source of inspiration. Also I definitely want to do more portrait photography.  It’s a good way for me to get out of my comfort zone, as it is much more challenging than my usual subjects like plants or landscapes.

Observing the details

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Last weekend as the sun was shining, we decided to get out of the city and headed to Castricum. We enjoyed a beautiful walk through the dunes and had a lovely picnic on Heemskerk beach.

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I was looking for some inspiration for my homework for the photography course which consisted in taking close-ups.

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I’m used to taking a lot of close-ups of plants, but tried to challenge myself to look for some different subjects this time (except this giant poppy flower which was just too amazing to resist;).

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Really looking at things and taking in the details, is great practise for mindfulness as it takes a lot of focus.  I enjoyed the creative challenge of combining colours, textures and imperfections.

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Things I loved about Thailand

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  • Fresh fruit vendors in the street

Imagine if there were people selling fresh fruit that was peeled, chopped and ready to eat on every street corner in Europe?? It would be so much easier for me to be healthy and reach for fruit instead of getting a piece of cake when I feel like a snack:) Loved the mini-pineapples, watermelon, papaya, mango…

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  • Hundreds of colourful temples

I couldn’t get enough of the beauty of the temples with their flashy colours and intricate designs, the golden buddhas, feeling the cool pavement inside the temples with my beare feet, the quiet compared to the bustling city, only interrupted by the sound of monks chanting or people shaking budhist fortune sticks to find out what the future has in store for them…

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  • Offerings

Colourful offerings of bright flowers, water, ribbons, soft drinks and more near buddhas and spirit houses.

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  • Paradise beaches

Soft sand, colourful boats, transparent water, snorkeling with multicoloured fish and  observing the details of corals, finding tiny sea shells… It was so relaxing, good for the body and the mind.

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  • Children playing in the sea during magic hour

I loved to walk up and down long stretches of the beach at that time when the sunlight gets golden and the colours soften, and watch kids playing, laughing together and collecting sea shells in the magic hour.

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  • Amazing sunsets

On the western side of the islands the sunsets are gorgeous with their spectacular colours bouncing off the whispy clouds. Every day the colours are different and breathtaking. Such a simple pleasure!

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  • Wandering around night markets

Exploring the night markets was so much fun. I could spend hours walking around looking at the beautifully presented vegetables, trying to figure out what the plastic bags with bright mixtures contain, and people watching as locals buy their dinner… The markets are such a feast for the eyes (and tummy;)

Soothing sea views

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On the Camino del Norte, the path mainly follows the coast and the sea is always just around the corner, making it one of the most beautiful Camino routes. However when you look at the route on the guide book, it’s difficult to imagine what the day’s walk will really look like.

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The element of surprise was really helpful, because so often when I felt I couldn’t go any further, or I was wondering ‘what am I doing here??’, I would come across a view like one of these and then it would all make sense again. I’d stop thinking about my feet and remember how lucky I was to get to see such unspoiled nature.

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I loved the fact that the nature looked different every day and I never knew what to expect. Stumbling on an amazing beach after a few minutes or a few hours of walking was always magical for me. Depending on the weather the colour of the water, the sky and the clouds would vary incredibly.

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Usually I was up on the top of the cliff which meant a beautiful perspective over the sea. Sometimes the path would go up and down all day with tiny coves at the bottom of the hill before going back up the hillside.

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Coming across a spectacular view point was always an excuse to take a break to eat an apple or simply sit to rest and watch the water. The snacks I ate overlooking the sea were usually really simple, but enjoying them in front of these magical views made them taste like a real feast 😉

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20160518_135451I love how you can actually see that the earth is round on this picture!!